Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Bad Onion Will Just Kill A Dish

4-something p.m. Tuesday

I was wondering what I was going to blog about this week, since I haven't gotten near any (now 3) of my book piles ... there'd be plenty to write about there if I had the time to read ... but working on deadlines is priority. Then I realized this afternoon, even as I wanted to cry over the epic failure of a dish, I thought at least being able to blog about the utter failure (IMO) might make me feel better.

Last week I blogged about my "fix it" obsession. And I guess to a degree my "fix it" obsession can be said to spread out to food. Maybe it's middle age, maybe it's the need to have something handy and ready to eat that's homemade (read: leftovers), or maybe it's just the sheer joy of cooking -- but I've really grown fascinated with (okay, easier forms of) cooking. I've been aiming to learn how to cook some of the Puerto Rican dishes my mom would make for us when I was growing up ... with the hopes that next time I visit I can impress her.

Today I'm making chicken stew. Or rather, I was trying to. We'll see whether it is in about an hour. Because like the title of the post headline reads -- a bad onion will just reduce a dish to uselessness.

I like yellow onions. They have personality. They're the ones you need when you're cooking Puerto Rican dishes. When they sauté in the cooking oil to become the base of just about every PR meal that is not a dessert, they are just heaven to breathe in. They smell like a meal unto themselves! Unless they DON'T, in which case you're in trouble. Real trouble.

I dunno if it was just an old one or if it was a sweet onion disguised as a yellow onion and I picked it up by mistake. ACK. All's to say, I didn't notice its lack of scent while I was cutting it up because I was too busy CRYING from the fumes!

But boy did I notice there was NO SCENT WHATSOEVER when I started to sauté them ... and did I start to freak out!

There's going to be no flavor in this stew! How do I save this dish?! I've had this happen before and because I was sharing that one with friends, the sofrito was simply thrown in the garbage for its amazing lack of flavor and I plum started over. But today I've got like 5 pounds of chicken that has to go in here! The kicker being I have NO MORE ONIONS IN THE HOUSE TO REPLACE THIS LAME ONE WITH! (I sure can't leave the pot to get in the car to get an onion. I'm on a deadline!!)

In my panic I grabbed small jars of minced onion and onion powder -- hoping that somehow one of these options might add that amazing--what do I call it? kick? piquant? tang? zip?-- add that flavor that makes the dish come to life.

I kept tasting and adding and tasting and adding and there was just no relief; it was all really just getting more grainy. PANIC. I had to stop while I was ahead and just throw in the bowl of chicken I had cut up. Sigh.

45 minutes later:
the graininess has subsided. The flavor is mild so it's not inedible but the sauce has no real personality. It does not bring that note of nostalgic contentment to my tummy with its taste. Sigh.

How to salvage this. I might experiment with hot sauce (now I like hot sauce but it shouldn't be necessary in this dish.) How sad. :(

P.S. Friday afternoon.
The leftovers the following day were slightly better. The flavor just didn't pop. But oy, lesson learned. Always have back up onions in plenty supply. LOL

Monday, August 10, 2015

TV Junkie: "Fix It" reality shows and Bar Rescue

I'm a fan of "Fix-It" shows.

Fix the house, fix the business. I just loooooooove these shows.

It's truly something of a mild obsession ... I tend to binge watch. When I'm aiming to be good ('cause it's a workday) I'll only watch one episode during lunchtime. Then when my husband is working late after dinner then I'll watch 2 or 3 in a row.

The ones I enjoy related to fixing up houses are Rehab Addict, Love It Or List It, Flip or Flop (here, why don't I just link you over to HGTV so you can see them yourself!? LOL) but my favorite shows of this type is anything hosted by The Property Brothers (they're twins!! Jonathan is a contractor and Drew is a real estate agent, so their teaming up is natural!) and my most favorite of all: Holmes Inspection. This is where the exceptional contractor Mike Holmes inspects houses in trouble and discovers where the original home inspection failed during the sale process. (Seriously, if I could afford to fly this man over here to inspect when I buy a house I would. He's amazing, scary-professional (in the best way) and his work crew  -- which includes his kids!! -- is just fantastic.) Mr. Holmes and his crew take apart whatever is wrong with the house then reconstruct it to Make It Right™!!

Holmes Inspection is a great show. And I love how in this instance a total newbie to buying/owning houses and caring for their maintenance could watch, take notes, learn and actually prepare for owning a home! (Seriously, I'm taking notes -- because why not?) It's amazing! This is an entire education being supplied here -- we should be grateful! I know I am. Home buying doesn't have to be scary or a trap ... You can go in better prepared, and that's so helpful!

There's also a terrific short-lived fix-it show that straddled home and business called Construction Intervention where contractor Charlie Frattini repairs failed construction projects abandoned by incompetent contractors. I enjoyed this one, too.

On the business side for the fix-it type shows, I've enjoyed Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. Sometimes outrageous and full of yelling, heck, I can understand why the man feels the need to scream when restaurants are supposed to be about enjoyment of food, clean (!!) food-handling and safe food storage!

Bar and Restaurant expert John Taffer
So my husband (knowing how I LOVE these types of shows) found and put on our queue my latest binge watch: "Bar Rescue" hosted by John Taffer. What a great show!

Anyone with any HOPES of opening a bar/restaurant should watch, take notes, then fly. This man knows what he's doing.

Where Gordon Ramsey aims to rescue failing restaurants, John Taffer aims to salvage bars on the verge of massive failure. I binge-watched two seasons in about 2 weeks (I know. That's a lot of episodes. Chris had a lot of working late this past week.)

I really enjoy this series because 1) Mr. Taffer doesn't play. He's there to save these owners their livelihoods  2) holy moley, Mr. Taffer can revamp a place.

I mean, yes, I'm looking at it dispassionately; I'm not the bar/restaurant owner who's getting their bar/restaurant business made over and probably re-named in the process. But golly, (without giving away spoilers) the man knows what he's doing and has the tools to make it work. It's impressive.

I like watching this series on a sheer running-a-business level. Although not obvious (since I sure don't plan to open a restaurant or bar!) the knowledge can be applied across-wise, because after all, a business owner is a business owner, and an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur ... there are going to be certain ground rules that are going to hold true across the board for anyone managing a business, like accounting, managing staff and being present in the business in a helpful (and not abusive or micro-managey) way.

If you like these kinds of fix-it reality shows, I totally recommend you try Bar Rescue!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Fallen World: Small Comfort

In Small Comfort, Jonah has a really bad dream ...

The third in a series of three mini-comics my husband and I created together (he wrote, I drew), I'm thrilled to finally post Fallen World: Small Comfort on my new comics website.

We'd printed the set up as mini-comics years ago, and have shared them with friends and folks at conventions and on Free Comic Book Day. It's great to share them online so there'd be a better chance of more readers finding them.